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Global review of plant conservation on oceanic islands

7 May 2010
In a recent special issue on oceanic islands of the journal ‘Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics‘ a team of 12 island plant conservationists led by Dr. Juli Caujapé-Castells at Jardín Botanico Canario, Gran Canaria, Spain - BGCI's Spanish Office - has published a comprehensive analysis of conservation status and threat factors of oceanic island plants on a global scale.
 
Based on the numbers of insular endemic plants in the endangered (EN) and critically endangered (CR) IUCN categories for 53 island groups with an estimated 9951 endemic plant species, the authors estimate that at least between 3500 and 6800 of the estimated 70,000 insular endemic plant species worldwide might be highly threatened (CR+EN) and between 2000 and 2800 of them in critical danger of extinction (CR). Plant endemics from very small islands are more often critically endangered.

The authors discuss the role of seven groups of threat factors that together lead to the endangerment of island plants:
  • small population sizes and fragmentation
  • lost mutualisms
  • habitat alteration and destruction
  • invasive alien plant species
  • invasive alien invertebrates and pathogens
  • invasive alien vertebrates
  • climate change and pollution
While the effects of past threat factors are still prevailing (i.e. small population sizes, invasive species), new factors are emerging where knowledge about effects is largely missing but that likely will accelerate the loss of plant biodiversity on islands (i.e. climate change and pollution).

An upscaling of conservation measures to save island plants is urgently needed, and a global island plant conservation network should be initiated to link conservationists with similar management challenges in different regions.
 
The setup of such a network is currently being planned. If you are interested in the new island plant conservation network please contact Dr. Christoph Kueffer or BGCI.
 
 

Find Out More

The IUCN Top 50 threatened Mediterranean Island Plants
The Top 50 Mediterranean Island Plants report available to download, carried out by the IUCN Mediterranean Island Plants Specialist Group.

The Catalogue of Life
The Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life is a catalogue of all known species of organisms on Earth. The ninth edition of the Annual Checklist (2010) contains 1,160,711species and input from 66 taxonomic databases from around the world. This is probably just over half of the world's known species.

The International Year of Biodiversity
The United Nations declared 2010 to be the International Year of Biodiversity. It is a celebration of life on earth and of the value of biodiversity for our lives. The world is invited to take action in 2010 to safeguard the variety of life on earth: biodiversity.

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